MANILA, Oct. 7, 2014—A Catholic bishop calls on the government to act on the issue of street children, an increasing number of whom are becoming “solvent” dependents involved in petty crimes.
According to Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the agency under the national government tasked to tackle this problem, must use the resources at its disposal, specifically the multibillion-peso Cash Conditional Transfer (CCT) Fund, to improve the country’s youth centers which shelter these so-called “batang hamog”.
“DSWD has large funds for social service which they should spend in buidling youth centers, or in refurbishing the ones already existing,” Pabillo told Church-run Radyo Veritas.
“Unfortunately, DSWD fails to respond to the needs of these children,which explains why many have either turned to sniffing “solvent”, or become engaged in petty crimes, or both,” he said.
The prelate who chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA) explained that “batang hamog” are forced into a life of crime in desperation, picking pockets and experimenting with soft drugs in a bid to temporarily forget their misery.
“We in the Church have the “Tulay sa Kabataan ni Father Matthew”. Also NASSA (National Secretariat for Social Action) and various NGOs (non-government organizations) are working together in reaching out to street children,” Pabillo shared.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) reveals that there are between 75,000 to 85,000 street children in the Philippines, and this number balloons by 6,365 each year. (Raymond A. Sebastián)